Let’s consider the hypothetical situation of two businesses that are virtually identical. They are competing for the same market, with the same products and virtually the same value proposition. What helps one brand stand above the other? In today’s world, where digital business and online access makes shopping for products and services easier than ever, there’s only real answer: convenience. The more convenient you can make your services to your customers, the more likely they are to use them over your competitors. But how exactly do you offer convenience? We’re going to look at some of the most effective methods here.
The quickest path to what they’re looking for
Reducing friction should be one of your biggest concerns. It’s not the only thing that makes a business convenient, contrary to what some might think, and we will explore what else is required further. But if you have a website that has a poor user interface or experience, that’s difficult to navigate or doesn’t present all the information the customer needs, they are more likely to abandon their shopping cart. This is just as true of brick-and-mortar stores. Testing to ensure that finding and purchasing what you want is as easy as possible is crucial, especially with how well-formatted the competition is in the e-commerce space.
Let them do more themselves
While you should always have someone on hand to help a customer should they have trouble completing their own journeys, the easier you can make it for them to do it all on their own, the better. Most online purchases are completed with very little help necessary, but creating a great FAQ page can help even more customers do it, by providing the answers to what questions they may have without the need for human intervention. In the brick-and-mortar business, self-service has taken off in a huge way, taking up more and more of the checkout aisle.
Ensure help is there when they need it
Naturally, if they’re having trouble and they can’t finish the journey by themselves, even with the help of an FAQ, then they will look to your team for help. You need to make sure that they are. In physical businesses, this means a focus on customer service training and real investment in your employees to ensure they are motivated to live up to the brand promise. Online, more and more websites are incorporating software that allows customers to reach an employee through live chat whenever they are available. Take a look at some of the top live chat systems at Crazyegg.com to see how you can start to implement it.
Stay up-to-date and informative
Perhaps customers haven’t yet decided they want to purchase anything. They’re interested, but they still need to be convinced. Ensure that you’re able to provide relevant, up-to-date information on products and services is crucial. This includes updating website copy and ensuring any customer-facing staff are fully informed on product/service changes and current promotions. Social media is now making it easier to keep customers up-to-date than ever before and a fantastic platform for promoting new products, new deals, and changes to how you do business. By engaging customers on social media and building your audience, you can make it much easier to ensure that relevant information is spread to customers. Provide information that’s no longer true and you’re likely to see a lot more frustration from them.
Make it more accessible
If you’re an online business whose model is starting to look outdated or you are taking a brick-and-mortar business into the digital world, then you need to consider which platform you use to deliver the business. Most online businesses still use websites, whether it’s providing information and convenient methods of contact, to serve as an ecommerce store, or to help customers track and manage their services. However, more and more are turning to the app. By creating an app that allows your customers to have a more direct, uninterrupted relationship with the business, you make it even more convenient than having them go to the website. Apps are also a lot more versatile than websites, meaning they can offer the kinds of functionality that can otherwise be hard to incorporate. If there’s something your business site isn’t letting you do too easily, consider making an app for it instead.
Help them pay it their way
The more freedom of choice you offer customers, the more convenient you can make it for them. Most customers already know how they like to handle transactions, especially when it comes to money. In the brick and mortar world, only accepting cash is an easy way to ensure customers don’t come back. Setting up a merchant account is easier than ever before and with the best merchant service providers from Comparisun.com, finding the right one isn’t too hard either. Online, wholly digital models like PayPal should also be considered. The more options you offer when it comes to payment, the less friction for more customers.
Consider more convenient models
When it comes to friction in payment, there’s nothing smoother than making payments automatic. The subscription business model is a fast-growing trend in businesses. Not only does it apply to things like magazines, but also to software, streaming services, and even businesses that regularly deliver products. The subscription model isn’t necessarily the right one for every business, but it’s worth looking into for the advantages alone. When staying subscribed is easier than canceling, customers are more likely to repeat business, for one. What’s more, it offers the business a much easier way to track how many customers they have and the lifetime value per customer.
Make the journey for them
Offering deliveries to customers is another way of reducing friction and the internet has proven just how valuable it is. More and more brick-and-mortar stores are finding it difficult to compete with the prospect of simply making an order and waiting for the product to come to you. Now, in order to compete, brick-and-mortar stores need to incorporate deliveries, too. The better they are handled, the more convenient for the customers. This might include free deliveries, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. Offering the ability to track deliveries, to provide accurate arrival estimates, and more can be just as valuable, if not more so, than offering those deliveries for free.
Share your knowledge
As mentioned, convenience isn’t just about how little friction is involved in making a transaction or using your services. It’s also about the value that the brand can offer the customer. Content marketing can be just as crucial to your convenience as your product and service delivery. For instance, many brands are also now gaining reputations as sources of quality information and tutorials based on not just their products, but fields of expertise related to them. A plumbing company may, for instance, also offer plenty of information on not only spotting and fixing leaks, but general household maintenance, DIY, and preventing issues in the home. If you can provide and disseminate informative content, it lends more value to the brand and, what’s more, is more likely to lead to customer conversions from those who may not have been initially interested in your products or services in the first place.
Give them more reason to return
The more you can offer the customer in exchange for their purchasing power, the more value you have to them in that regard, as well. If they’re looking at two businesses offering the exact same thing, then the business that add more value to the product or service is the more convenient business. With a loyalty system, that’s exactly what you can get. A little investment can help you derive a much greater lifetime value per customer. Take a look at FitSmallBusiness.com to see the best loyalty program software currently on the market and see if any of them fit your business.
Use the omnichannel
Technology will always drive convenience, to some extent, and there’s a new way that businesses are making use of it. More and more of the brick-and-mortar businesses that survive are those that aren’t 100% physical, but also have an online component, such as an ecommerce store, supporting them. What’s more, these businesses have found a way to use the best of both worlds with the omnichannel. The omnichannel allows the physical store to use the advantages of the online platform and vice-versa. The most popular way of using it, and the most relevant in the discussion of convenience, is using the physical store as a pick-up point for purchases made online.
Convenience isn’t something that can be easily retro-fit into the business, it needs to be invested in and implemented all throughout it. Otherwise, the little convenient touches that you are missing will stick out to the customer like a sore thumb. However, if you want to grow your customer base or make sure you’re not eclipsed by businesses that are growing more and more aware of customer convenience, you need to make that investment.